Spotlight:Writing Journey of A LOVE SO GREAT, A GRIEF SO DEEP

NCWA blog shines a spotlight on the writing journey of: A LOVE SO GREAT, A GRIEF SO DEEP by Marlene Anderson, published by Xulon Press.  See book giveaway details at end of post.

When my husband was diagnosed with a fatal brain tumor I began to journal. Journaling helps to clarify emotions, thoughts and helps make sense of what is happening. In the process of articulation you begin to heal through the pain. Journaling continued after he died and God met me every day in the healing process.

It was never intended for a book – but God had a different plan.  At some point this journey became more than therapy and my thoughts demanded a voice in print. One day an email ad from Xulon Press arrived offering a “deal” to self-publish. I felt God’s strong hand on the scuff of my neck saying “Now – publish it.”

With fear, trepidation and the help of an editor friend and former English teacher who held my feet to the fire, I sent in the completed manuscript then cried, “What have I done?  I have made myself vulnerable to the entire world.”

But that was God’s plan – to share with others how vulnerable we feel when we grieve.  To share the pitfalls, twists and turns through the healing/recovery process, and the time it takes to go through layers of loss. With all the knowledge I had as a psychology teacher and therapist, I was unprepared for such a tough journey.

A lot of things were left unsaid in the literature. With around 50 professional hours on the subject and personal study, I have written another manuscript ready to find a publisher. I am putting together a “Working Through Grief” handbook that touches on many different aspects of grieving any loss.

Through writing every day, I made an important discovery: I really liked to write. I have always enjoyed teaching, but now have another way to share my training and personal experiences. It has become the basis of my “platform” – helping individuals heal from life’s traumas, early childhood wounding and other loss.

What were the difficulties? Expressing difficult emotions, while writing specifically and eliminating unnecessary words. Questions to ask while writing from your own perspective are: will this benefit the reader? In what way? What will they take away from your personal story of benefit in their life story?

What can you add to make the story more meaningful without losing authenticity? What can you leave out? Writing and rewriting was the difficult part – making the story complete without being burdensome to read.  At times I struggled with my emotional voice in order to keep the book grammatically correct.

What would I recommend to writers of non-fiction, especially emotionally difficult subjects? Don’t write about anything that you are not personally knowledgeable. Writing about grief and loss without personal experience can end up sterile and academic. But it also needs to be more than just “your experience”. Is your topic something others go through? How will your story help them?

Besides knowing the subject matter personally, how does your knowledge match with existing research data?  As a counselor, I often cringe when I read Christian authors write about things with only a biblical or personal slant. There is a reason God gave us the science of psychology just as he did physical medicine.

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Marlene is a licensed counselor, author, speaker, and retreat and workshop leader. She has worked in both clinical and educational settings as a college teacher, therapist and facilitator of psycho-educational classes. She has been a member of NCWA since 2007. For more about Marlene, visit her website or visit her blogs: Healing From Losses and The Counselor is In . She is a contributing writer to Author Haven.

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18 thoughts on “Spotlight:Writing Journey of A LOVE SO GREAT, A GRIEF SO DEEP

  1. Thank you Marlene. Your blog post was so beautiful and gave me courage to continue to write about my own journey of life and love and loss. It is God’s amazing grace that gets us to the place where he uses us to reach back and pull others on the same journey across the threshold of healing. I thank God for your sweet spirit and honest voice. God is using you and your story for His glory. God bless your heart.

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    • Thank you for your kind words – I do believe that we are to share our stories in that they can become a positive reflection of God’s love as we walk with Him.

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  2. Marlene, how wonderful you are using your own hurt in order to reach out and help others. One of the best gifts we have is the ability to help others. I often find solace when I think of my own personal loss (ectopic pregnancy) when I am able to comfort other woman who suffer miscarriages or fertility problems.
    Thanks for sharing and listening to God’s prompting! 🙂

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  3. Thanks Marlene. I was so encouraged by your post. I so agree that things can get pretty sterile if its wriiten without the heart and life experience. We all have a story to tell and it needs to be told – emotions and all so that it will help others. I thank God for His healing touch. Bless you.

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  4. Thank you Marlene. Thank you for being so vunerable and for being obedient to God’s plan and nudging. We each have a story to tell and without the emotions, as you said, it would be sterile. God is so faithful to comfort us in our time of need so that we may go out and comfort those in their time of need. May the Lord bless you and keep you each day.

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  5. Thanks for sharing from your heart. I also appreciate the questions you included to help others consider what to include in their stories and how to make their experiences relevant to others. God bless you as you write for Him and touch lives.

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  6. Marlene,
    Thank you, It is amazing how writing those feelings of grief down can enable us. My husband went through surgery for prostate cancer last year and I wrote bits and pieces through that process. Reading through it reminds me of the great miracles our God provides. From stage 4 cancer to living upright. God is so good! Keep up the writing and encouragement.

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    • Thank you Jean – I’m sorry it has taken so long to respond to all these wonderful comments – I get so busy writing I don’t take the time to look back – I’m grateful you husbband is doing well. God is good!

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  7. I also wrote a jouranl during some of my battles and storms. It also turned out to be a book God wanted me to write called, Signs of Hope: Ways to Survive in an Unfriendly World. . Pain and suffering are a part of everyone’s life, and to share them with others is very helpful.

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  8. I stumbled upon your blog post via the end of year NCWA blog today. It was just what I needed to hear to further my writing. I met you at my first NCWA meeting in September. I started to journal after the passing of my mother last year and felt God calling me to use that for a book too. Sometimes I doubt what this is all about and reliving it through the writing process is somewhat painful. Thanks for your tips. God bless you for persevering through your pain and turning it into His purpose.

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    • It is never easy to continue through pain, whether it is physical or emotional. But as we do, we find pain lessening and a new purpose emerging. Continue to focus on that new purpose and healing will follow. Blessings

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